European poultry meat production and exports are expected to increase over the coming decade, albeit at a rate lower than that recorded during the past 10 years.
Forecasts published by AVEC, the Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the EU, suggest that, between 2016 and 2025, the volume of poultry meat produced by the European Union will grow by 3.8 percent to a little over 14 million tons.
This headline figure, however, masks regional variation. The highest growth rates will be recorded in the 13 newer EU member states, where growth in poultry meat production is predicted to average 1.1 percent per year. This will come from catching up with the rest of the EU, particularly where productivity is concerned, and will be particularly prominent in Hungary, Poland and Romania.
If Europe’s demand for poultry meat remains strong and feed prices continue to be relatively stable, AVEC believes that, by 2025, output of poultry meat by European Union producers will reach 14.1 million tons.
Poultry meat consumption is also expected to rise in Europe, reaching 22.8 kg per capita by 2025, up marginally from today’s 22.5 kg per capita. The increase will be slower than in previous years, primarily due to the newer Member States reaching maturity, and growth rates tailing off in those countries, but growth is evident even in some of Europe’s more mature markets.
Europe’s poultry meat exports
As European poultry meat production continues to expand, the region’s exports are also forecast to grow, albeit at a moderate 1.4 percent per year, reaching 1.6 million tons by 2025.
European exporters will benefit from the growing global demand for meat, but they will have to contend with growing competition from other exporting regions, which is expected to exert downward pressure on prices.
While there may be some concern regarding price pressure on exports, there is greater concern on the current state of Europe’s poultry meat imports.
AVEC President Paul Lopez notes that, while Europe’s poultry imports are lower than exports by volume, with a positive balance of 569,000 tons, value imports are EUR214 million (US$229.5 million) higher.
This imbalance is due primarily to the import of higher-value products, for example, 25 percent of the breast meat currently consumed in Europe is from third countries, and has raised concern among Europe’s producers.
He stressed that the EU must remain a net exporter. Those countries adopting unfair protectionist measures must be confronted. At the same time, he warned of emerging low-production-cost countries, which represent a threat to European producers.
Home market issues
AVEC argues that imports of poultry meat not only represent a threat to Europe’s producers, but that current legislation governing the labeling of imported meat is also detrimental for the region’s consumers.
Since April 2015, rules requiring the place of rearing and slaughter to be stated on fresh poultry meat labeling have been mandatory. However, this is not the case for poultry meat used as an ingredient, and a significant amount of this meat is imported. AVEC argues that failing to declare the origin of such meat, which may not be produced to European standards, denies consumer choice and should be addressed.
Producers argue that consumers should be informed of the origin of fresh poultry meat, and also when it used as an ingredient.
AVEC is also calling for a better approach to legislation on welfare. It argues that, until current legislation in Europe is properly harmonized and applied, there should be no new legislation. Current rules also needs to simplified, to offer producers more flexibility, and the association warns that additional standards may well have an impact on exports, and would be difficult to impose on imported meat.
AVEC is also calling for Europe to recognize a difference between mechanically deboned and mechanically separated meat. The current situation, it argues, lowers revenue for producers and creates extra costs through waste.
Poland has become the largest poultry producer, yet is still expected to make productivity gains.
What’s happening in the European poultry industry?